Ginny and Georgia’s Antonia Gentry Doesn’t Mind Playing a Teen on TV

antonia gentry
Antonia Gentry. Photo courtesy of Ezra Anthony.

Inevitably, Ginny and Georgia has already drawn Gilmore Girls comparisons. At first, those parallels may appear to be apt: it’s a show about a young mom and her precocious teenage daughter living in a preppy town in the Northeast. However, that’s just about where the comparisons stop, as the Netflix series aims to dig a little deeper at teasing out that same parent-child dynamic when the mother is white and the daughter is Black, and there’s a mystery involving a possible murder at the center of it all.

“In the pilot alone, people will quickly realize that this show is not Gilmore Girls,” Antonia Gentry said. The actress, who plays the Ginny to Brianne Howey’s Georgia, was born and raised in Atlanta, attended Emory University for drama, and got her start in a small Netflix film called Candy Jar in 2018. While she was in the middle of graduating, turning in final essays, and taking exams, she snagged the lead role in Ginny and Georgia. “My professors were understanding and encouraging for the most part, but it was pretty hard bouncing back and forth between being a full-time college student, working part-time, and also trying to pursue this career,” she told W over the phone.

She lucked out by finishing production in December 2019, just a few months before lockdown started. “Georgia is such a complex character and her relationship with Ginny piqued my interest,” she explained. “She’s only 30 and Ginny is 15. The first lines in the voiceover, ‘My mom had me when she was 15 so I got the sex talk when I was seven,’ immediately drew me in.”

Gentry explained that her character’s vulnerability in trying to figure out her identity felt relatable to her on a personal level. “When I was growing up, I never saw a biracial lead. I didn’t see interracial couples or narratives often displayed in television or movies, and that was something I didn’t realize I wish I had until later on,” she told W.

Centering Ginny in the story (alongside her mother, Georgia) and telling it mostly from her perspective was paramount for Gentry to access her understanding of the role. “I didn’t feel like Ginny is a token,” she said. “When we do bring up her more serious struggles, whether it be with her mom, self-harm, or her identity, it’s not done for shock value. It’s understated, but it’s still serious, and I think normalization of these aspects of life is really valuable.”

Ginny and Georgia tries its best to underscore the differences in race, class, and sexuality among the residents of the sleepy Massachusetts town in which it takes place, and how those intersecting identities may affect the characters and their motivations as the series goes on. “The characters are flawed and they call each other out, whether that’s on racism or sexism,” she went on, listing more reasons why viewers shouldn’t expect a Stars Hollow rip-off. “Characters explore their sexuality in the show, they commit crimes. There’s manipulation and so many other things, but it also has a lot of heart and it’s fun and loving. A lot of that has to do with how honest the show is in terms of portraying life as it is.”

And even though the 23-year-old may be mistaken for a 16-year-old when she’s walking down the street, she doesn’t feel pigeonholed by playing a teen on television. “She’s introverted, she’s awkward, she’s shy, but she’s really smart. She’s in a mostly white town. Her friends are mostly white and they mean well, but they don’t often say the right things. I immediately connected to that and the experiences I had as a teenager in high school,” she explained. “It was cathartic, and I got some sort of closure from playing her.”

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